The New York Times Real Estate Section, Gentrification and Class

Almost weekly the New York Times real estate section publishes a feature called The Hunt, written by Joyce Cohen. The column features New Yorkers across the city on the quest for the perfect apartment. A 20-year-old student from New Jersey, a nice Jewish family looking for a house in Brooklyn and a young couple looking for a space to grow their family.  Everyone is looking for a great place at the right price and often having to move farther and farther to do it.  These people are what have become known as gentrifiers, upper middle class people moving into formerly poor or middle class neighborhoods and causing a rise in property values as a result. 

Nowhere to be found in these real estate profiles, however, are the stories of the people who are being forced out of these neighborhoods to make room for these new residents.  Nowhere does the real estate section discus the eleven per cent drop in subsidized rental units below 96th street in Manhattan, or the some 600,000 homeless people across New York City.

Even when the New York Times does cover gentrification, they cover it from the perspective of a white, wealthy couple that moved into their house in 2000 and wants a 4 million dollar settlement to move out of their apartment. 

 As Fleras explains, the mainstream media including the New York times are out to make a profit, so of course they are not going to focus on the hunger epidemic happening in the Bronx, or the fact that Harlem, once the epicenter of black culture in New York is no longer a majority black neighborhood.

Most of the New York Times readership is these upper middle class gentrifiers, so naturally they will portray the upper class favorably and ignore the (usually) poorer victims of gentrification.  But one could hope that they could at least cover a story or two about the fact that Brooklyn, once home to millions of middle class New Yorkers, is now the most unaffordable place to buy a home in the country, and the people that might affect, other than wealthy white couples who’ve had to make the dreaded move to New Jersey.

Suggested Follow Up:

In The Shadow of Gentrification by Elizabeth Kissam 

Report: High-Opportunity Neighborhoods in NYC are Losing Affordable Housing released by the NYU Furhman Centre 

Illuminating New York Citys Gentrification, One Story at a Time by Hannah R. Alberts

The Social Construction of a Gentrifying Neighbourhood by Jackelyn Hwang